By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Brayden Ebbs was just 5 years old when he fell in love.

It only took 8 seconds.

“I had been wrestling a lot. I had gotten better in the wrestling room. I just hadn’t competed at all,” said Ebbs, who started wrestling at the Celtic Mat Club camp when he was 4. “And I remember my very first match lasted 8 seconds total because the kid just tried to shoot in on me and I just put him straight to his back and pinned him. And that was my very first memory of wrestling and ever since then I just fell in love with the sport.”

Brayden Ebbs, with his dad, head wrestling coach at McNary High School, holds up his national letter of intent to wrestle at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley

Not long after, Ebbs knew he wanted to wrestle in college.

“That was always one of my big dreams because I love the sport of wrestling and I love the community and the friendships you make within it,” Ebbs said. “Ever since I was little I always told my dad that I wanted to wrestle in college and he definitely helped me get there.”

Ebbs signed with Grand View University, winner of seven straight NAIA National Championships, on Wednesday, June 6.

“Grand View is an amazing school,” Ebbs said. “I went down on my visit and I absolutely loved it, great community, great school and their wrestling program is phenomenal. It’s a great group of guys that I got to know and they’re all super close, which is a big thing that I look at. I don’t want to be part of a team where everybody is kind of doing their own thing. At Grand View they’re all great friends and like brothers to each other.”

Ebbs got in touch with Grand View, located in Des Moines, Iowa, through another former McNary wrestler—Devin Reynolds.

Reynolds, who placed third at 149 pounds at the national championships, will be a senior at Grand View next year.

“With him going there it definitely helped out a lot because the thing with Grand View is they don’t normally recruit outside of Iowa,” Ebbs said.  “They tend to stick with Iowa because that’s where a lot of tough wrestlers go and are from and with Devin going to Grand View it gave me an opportunity there.”

Ebbs thought about playing football in college, too, and had an offer to participate in both sports at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.

“At the end of football season this year I was kind of thinking about it because I’ve played football since I was just a little kid, too, and I’ve always loved the sport of football,” Ebbs said. “But when wrestling season hit I think that’s when I decided I just wanted to be a wrestler. It was just kind of the leftover feeling from football being over and how I wasn’t ever going to play again so I think that was just me wanting to keep playing football. But I think after I got out of that little vision my mind cleared and I decided I just wanted to be a wrestler.”

Ebbs has been around wrestling his entire life. He was only 3 when his dad, Jason, took over the McNary program in 2003 after being an assistant coach at Crook County.

“Even at Crook County, I’d be on my dad’s shoulders as he was coaching on the side of the mat,” Ebbs said. “At McNary I grew into the wrestling community. I got to know a lot of the high school wrestlers and they all took good care of me. I just made good relationships with the wrestlers which helped me grow through wrestling and helped me become the wrestler that I wanted to be.”

When Brayden was 8, Jason saw how much his son loved the sport. Tired from high school practice, Jason told Brayden they could take the night off from mat club. Brayden responded, “If I don’t go to practice, they’re going to learn something I don’t know.”

At age 10, Ebbs joined the All-Phase Wrestling Club in West Linn, and finished third in Greco-Roman and freestyle at his first national tournament.

In high school, Ebbs won two district championships at 138 and 160 pounds. After placing sixth in the state as a freshman, he placed fourth as a sophomore and then third his senior year. Ebbs said his favorite match was his first at the state tournament when as a freshman he upset No. 1 seed Bennett Mesa, a sophomore at Roseburg, who had won the 106-pound title the year before.

“I think that’s my best match because I’d spent that whole season waiting to wrestle him and I wanted to wrestle him,” Ebbs said. “There were two times that I didn’t get to wrestle him when we wrestled against Roseburg and I finally got to wrestle him at the state tournament and I did exactly what I needed to do.”

All along the way his dad has been there.

“It helped me out a lot having my dad in my corner because I never didn’t have faith in my corner because my dad was there,” Ebbs said. “I always went out on the mat confident because we always had a game plan for anybody that we needed to. He prepared me well for my matches and just life in general.

“It’s going to be different going to Grand View and not having my dad in my corner but I think I’m going to be just fine and I think he’s (dad) going to be just fine knowing that coach (Nick) Mitchell over at Grand View is an amazing coach and they have an amazing coaching staff. It’s going to be a change but I think it’s something that’s going to help me out in the long run.”